Larry Dierker, Houston Astros pitcher and manager

Lawrence Edward Dierker was born September 22, 1946 in Hollywood, California. Larry was a four year letterman for his high school baseball team, and upon graduation from Taft High was drafted by the youngest team in the National League, the Houston Colt .45's. He made his major league debut on his 18th birthday in front of the hometown fans, a game he lost 3-1.

Over the next 12 years, Larry became the dominant ace of the redubbed Houston Astros staff. He won 10 games or more for the team every year from 1966 to 1976, except for 1967, when he was drafted and served in the military, and 1973, which he spent recovering from shoulder surgery. He was known for being a variety pitcher, as likely to throw a curveball as a fastball as a changeup on any pitch. In 1969 he had a breakout year, becoming the first Astros pitcher in franchise history to win 20 games while striking out 232 batters and accumulating a dazzling 2.33 ERA.

Although Dierker was a consisently excellent pitcher for the 'Stros, the team never could put together the right amount of talent and tools to win a pennant. It was no small consolation that Larry threw a no-hitter on July 9, 1976, after 3 one-hitters and a no-hitter blown in the 9th inning in his career. Larry declared it "indescribable" and stayed up celebrating until 5 A.M. the next day.

In 1977, Larry was shipped to the St. Louis Cardinals for some younger talent. He had a mixed season in a supporting role with the Cardinals, and was released in 1978. In 1980 he was picked up to provide color commentary for Astros radio, and the following year he joined the Astros' TV staff. He spent 19 years in the booth, announcing games and wearing his trademark Hawaiian shirts for postgame interviews.

In 1997, after the firing of Terry Collins, Astros owner Drayton McLane offered the managerial post to Dierker, who had never managed in professional baseball. Although there were a lot of question marks about Dierker's ability, they were laid to rest in his first season when he led the Astros to their first pennant in nearly 10 years.

The Astros would capture the National League Central pennant three more times, in 1998, 1999, and 2001. Dierker's success at the helm was never more clearer than on June 13, 1999 when, while sitting in the dugout, Dierker suffered a grand mal seizure. He was rushed to the hospital, where emergency surgery was performed to remove two knotted tumors from his brain. One month later he returned to the dugout - and was greeted by an Astrodome full of fans wearing Hawaiian shirts, in honor of their favorite pitcher and manager.

In 2001, Larry stepped down as manager of the Astros, citing personal reasons and his inability to win the World Series. In 2002, the Astros retired his number 49 jersey for all time, a fitting symbol to one of the most beloved figures in Houston sports history.

Career Statistics

Pitching:

YEAR TEAM     W   L   G  GS  CG SHO SV     IP    H   R  ER  HR  BB   SO  ERA
1964 HOU NL   0   1   3   1   0   0  0    9.0    7   4   2   1   3    5 2.00
1965 HOU NL   7   8  26  19   1   0  0  146.7  135  69  57  16  37  109 3.50
1966 HOU NL  10   8  29  28   8   2  0  187.0  173  73  66  17  45  108 3.18
1967 HOU NL   6   5  15  15   4   0  0   99.0   95  44  37   4  25   68 3.36
1968 HOU NL  12  15  32  32  10   1  0  233.7  206  95  86  14  89  161 3.31
1969 HOU NL  20  13  39  37  20   4  0  305.3  240  97  79  18  72  232 2.33
1970 HOU NL  16  12  37  36  17   2  1  269.7  263 124 116  31  82  191 3.87
1971 HOU NL  12   6  24  23   6   2  0  159.0  150  50  48   8  33   91 2.72
1972 HOU NL  15   8  31  31  12   5  0  214.7  209  87  81  14  51  115 3.40
1973 HOU NL   1   1  14   3   0   0  0   27.0   27  14  13   3  13   18 4.33
1974 HOU NL  11  10  33  33   7   3  0  223.7  189  76  72  18  82  150 2.90
1975 HOU NL  14  16  34  34  14   2  0  232.0  225 109 103  24  91  127 4.00
1976 HOU NL  13  14  28  28   7   4  0  187.7  171  85  77   9  72  112 3.69
1977 STL NL   2   6  11   9   0   0  0   39.3   40  21  20   7  16    6 4.58
     CAREER 139 123 356 329 106  25  1 2333.7 2130 948 857 184 711 1493 3.31

Managing:

YEAR   TEAM   G   W   L  PCT FINISH
1997 HOU NL 162  84  78 .519      1
1998 HOU NL 162 102  60 .630      1
1999 HOU NL 162  97  65 .599      1
2000 HOU NL 162  72  90 .444      4
2001 HOU NL 162  93  69 .574      1
     CAREER 810 448 362 .553

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